It has been a long time since something zippy and snappy came along in the area of media and political communications and that is why I paid attention to and wrote about the Obama Poster, which was as novel and original as I could remember. Today NYTimes writer Steven Heller claims Shepherd Fairey's Obama image has appeal because political graphics are usually developed by mainstream ad agencies "slavishly following old formulas" and the patriotic cliches have a "turgid redundancy" that have a "numbing rather than rousing effect." He uses two examples of political posters that I never had seen as examples of the fresh appeal that creative artists can bring to political messages: the first one by Warhol supporting McGovern (below) in 1972 and another poster artist by artist Peter Max in 1996 for Clinton/Gore. Warhol's green-gremlin Nixon put idea into art. Warhol knew popular culture and the appeal of the iconographic.
What makes Shepherd Fairey's Obama image so popular and unique in our times, though, is the viral nature of digital communications and the street art appeal/use of the poster. Fairey's Obama poster immediately sold out and he is reissuing his Obama Posters after being disappointed about finding them on ebay for personal profit. There are 600 more as of Thursday, for $30, one per household. The proceeds benefit the Obama campaign. How viral will this political art go? Can Fairey's Obama graphic be controlled and contained? Someone has even made an Obama stamp from the art. I've put in an email asking them about how they are going to release copyright permissions on the art. When I hear, I'll post.
NYTimes Campaign Stop Blog terms the Obama Poster "Social Realist inspired" - well, maybe, but Heller also misses the propaganda experience that Fairey has with phenomemes and street art. This has to do with art, culture and ideas. It is all about iteration.
Related Media/Political Culture Communication Posts:
The Art of Words: Campaign Visuals
Rhetoric, from Aristotle to Obama
The Obama Poster
Presidential Campaign Logos
Word Art: Talking Points
The Che Factor
latest: Hottest Political Art for the Presidential Campaign